Beshear signs Kentucky gray games ban into law

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear
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Update: According to Lexington Herald-Leader reporter John Cheves, Gov. Andy Beshear signed the bill into law and also said he will sign the Kentucky sports betting bill, should it pass the Senate.

The Kentucky bill banning gray machines in the state swept through the Senate in the span of a day, moving from committee to the Senate floor. The bill passed by a 29-6 margin, with all seven Democratic senators supporting the measure in addition to 22 Republicans.

Timoney “ecstatic” over gray game ban success

When asked how he felt about the result, HB594 sponsor Rep. Killian Timoney told SBC Americas he felt “ecstatic.”

You know, this is two years in the process,” he added. “I know it was a huge lift, and honestly, it was a very winding road. But sometimes the winding road you get the best scenery.”

Timoney added that he knew this year would be tougher than last year because the gray games lobbyist had more time to prepare.

One change to the bill Timoney did acknowledge was the removal of the emergency clause. With that, businesses with these machines now have until July to remove them from the premises.

Local small business owners once again crowded the committee room but the public support did not translate into committee votes. Like the House hearing, Timoney was joined by representatives from the KY Chamber of Commerce and veterans organizations. And, like the House hearings, the major gray game manufacturers, Pace-O-Matic and Prestigious Games, testified against the measure.

Opponents claim bill is fueled by horse racing greed

Former Kentucky lawmaker Bob Heleringer spoke on behalf of Prestigious and, once again, fingered Churchill Downs and the horse racing industry for pushing the legislation through.

“Let’s talk about somebody else who is in here, the horse racing industry. That’s who’s behind this bill. They trot up here front people to represent them, they’re in the room, but they won’t come and sign the witness list and take your questions about why these people pose a threat to their thriving industry. Purses are at an all-time high. How can they possibly constitute a threat? They don’t want to have to answer their question or any others about why they need this in addition to sports betting,” he said.

Minority Whip Sen. David Yates initially proposed an amendment to the bill to allow gray machines in bars and other 21+ venues, but that amendment was withdrawn when the bill was called to the Senate floor.

Now that the gray machine issue is settled, lawmakers can turn their eyes to sports betting, which will be heard in the Senate on Wednesday. The sports betting sponsor, Rep. Michael Meredith, said he is within one or two votes of having the three-fifths majority he needs to pass in the Senate.